Review for The Book of Names

The book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs

Genre – Fantasy, Young Adult, Christian fiction

Series – Book one

Rating – PG – Peril and fantasy violence

Synopsis –

This is the tale of four brothers who recently moved after their mom passed away. Hadyn, the oldest, is struggling to return to normal. All he wants to do is to return to the good old days. One day Hadyn and his brother Ewan find scrolls that suddenly appear in their briar patch. This leads them on a journey of self-discovery.

My Thoughts –

This book was a nice surprise! In my quest to find new books, I sometimes forgot what is on my list as the list is made up of sticky notes. So, when I started reading, it was a nice surprise that the setting starts off in modern times. I really liked this section of the book as it made me think of Stephan Lawhead’s books. Don’t get me wrong, the fantasy world Briggs created was had its own merits, but I almost wanted just a story set in modern times.

Alright, let’s talk characters. There were two characters that stood out to me. First, Hadyn. I connected with him on several levels because we are both the oldest sibling, and have similar characteristics. Anyway several characters have a decent character arc which was great. I liked Sorge and his mysterious past. He was a good mentor for the brothers by providing them with history and wisdom. I wanted more of Flogg! We did not learn about him except that he is a gnome. I am hoping that in future books, we will get more of him. Maybe a visit to his homeland? A few twists surprised me, but the whole evil witch who works for the evil Devourer felt flat.

The book was written to the author’s sons after their mother died which gave it a feeling of authenticity, but towards the end, it got a wee bit repetitive. I am hoping that the next book will come delve deeper. The ending was a wee bit predictable, but there was some great themes throughout the book about family, self-discovery, and love. There was a Jesus like character called Aion and a Satan like character called the Devourer. We see there are followers of Aion in three branches each doing a different task. There are certain gifts that given from Aion and these can be a variety of things.

Violence –

Honestly, there was not much violence. There were a few times where the characters were in peril and then the final battle at the end. The evil witch would sit in her tower and throw mice into a pot of blood. She controls a bunch of teens by her power. She also uses magic spells and incantations, but it is shown to be evil.

In the final battle, there is some fighting, but mostly characters only get cuts bruises. Nemasia releases these evil flying spirits called Watchers and they can terrorize people. The evil witch falls into a crack in the earth and vanishes.

Language – A few uses of the word hel, but used as a fictional location

Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

This was a great start to a fantasy series and had a good mix of humor, theology, and action. Personally, I would say that this book is aimed at a younger audience maybe teen and young adult. There were some good take aways like considering what role we play in fighting evil, not giving up hope, and overcoming grief. I think as the series progresses it will develop sea legs and become an epic fantasy saga.

Note – I read the second book in the series, and it starts to really develop our characters.

Cannot wait to hear from you all!

Anna

Review for The Tale of Hill Top Farm

The Tale of Hill Top Farm by Susan Wittig Albert

Genre – Cozy British Mystery

Age Range – Anyone

Series – 1st book in The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter

Synopsis –

The story starts with a death in the small community of Sawrey. This causes a crisis for the villagers as the woman who died was going to host the newcomer, Ms. Potter, to the village. Ms. Potter has just bought the land of Hill Top Farm, and she is hoping to get some inspiration for her books. As the villagers try to figure out where to put Ms. Potter, things start disappearing from several local establishments. Ms. Potter must eventually decide whether she will become involved in the small village or go back home to her parents?

My Thoughts –

This book has all the charm of the British countryside. The plot is a bit slower as it takes time to introduce all the characters, but it is well worth it. Not so much a mystery as a fictional account of what it might have been like for Beatrix Potter to move away from her family. The author ensures that we know who the real people are in the story, and at the back of the book gives a chronological account of Beatrix Potter’s life at Hill Top Farm.

The author did something unique by having not only people in the story, but animals as well. The animals can talk among themselves and not to people. Several of the animals are real pets that Beatrix Potter had. The animals actually are quite the investigators of the story. It gives the book a touch of fantasy which really fits.

Another thing I liked was the characters. I know I say that about almost every book, but I truly mean it here. All the characters have a role to play in this tiny community. Whether it be the vicar, the constable, or the head teacher. The author lets us hear from a variety of perspectives, although the main voice belongs to Ms. Potter. There is a vary poignant moment between the vicar and an ill character which shows how much he cares for everyone.

Negative content –

  • Violence – One character dies of natural causes (off the page) and a character stumbles and breaks her leg
  • Language – None
  • Innuendo – None

Conclusion –

I am eager to read the rest of this series as it was amazing. It is the perfect fall book. If you are interested in more character development and less mystery, then this might be the book for you. It truly brought the world of Beatrix Potter to life and makes me want to go back and read her children’s stories.

I cannot wait to hear your thoughts!!

Anna

Review for The Forsaken Continent

The Forsaken Continent by Wayne Thomas Batson

Genre –  Fantasy, Christian fiction

Age – Young adult – adult

Rating – PG-13 – handful of choice words and action violence

Synopsis –

This is the third book in the Myridian Constellation series.  Currently there are only three books in the series, but there will be more.  Anyway, the story takes place a couple months after the Errant King. 

King Lochlan is fleeing for his life after Morlan has overtaken the throne and is willing to kill anyone who will get in his way.  Meanwhile Abbagael is looking for her presumed dead husband, Alastair, who she believes is alive. 

My Thoughts –

Whew! After ten years, I finally got to find out what happened. This book took me on quiet the ride and I enjoyed every minute of it. There were so many good themes throughout this book. Self-sacrifice, being faithful, patience, and perseverance. What I loved was that the word building. The author does a great job of creating a world and yet not being overly descriptive.

There was definitely more of an allegorical tone in this book. More so then the previous two, which I loved. Telwyn was sort of like a Jesus character. He was the son of the First One and he had a wisdom that comes from the First One. We see him perform miracles and a handful of people following him know who is. One of my favorite lines was when Telwyn told a character, “Flander Craggit, you need not fear Woefire ever again, for my Father has written your name on the Scrooll of Life. No one can expunge the blessed ink of His pen.” (Batson, p. 278).

I loved Abbagael and the journey that she embarked on as of all the characters Alastair Coldhollow was my favorite. In the previous books, we saw his steadfastness to the First One and his endeavor to right the wrongs that he had committed. I am trying not to give spoilers so you will just have to go read it for yourself. 🙂

Now content wise only a few concerns. With Morlan’s return, he brought back countless evil creatures with him. For the most part, the author did not go into detail about these vile creatures , but they are evil and perform evil deeds. Also, it should be noted that Morlan served Sabryne who was basically Satan in the books. So there are a couple times where it was a little dark. That is why I would say this is more aimed at adults then teens. Do not worry there is a clear distinction between who is good versus who is evil.

Violence –

Violence was a given as Morlan is trying to conquer all of Myriad but was not gratuitous. Throughout the book there are skirmishes between the good characters and the bad. The good characters get cuts, scrapes, a couple characters get minor injures from daggers. There are several wolf like creature who attack a main character. In one of the skirmishes a character is presumed to be dead, but Telwyn reveals that he was just sleeping.

There are several mentions of blood. A couple character bled. A character goes into labor. (not much detail and rather quick). Later on in the book there is a mantis like creature who resides in a lake of blood. She attempts to kill a character.

Innuendo –

Two of the main characters kiss twice and contemplate marriage.

Language – Ba- —d is uttered seven times.

Conclusion –

After such a long wait, this book answered some much needed questions. Compared to the first two books, I feel like this one had more depth. It iover 500 pages long! We know these characters and we get to see their personal development for good and bad as some characters make some poor choices. This could be read as a stand alone, but I would highly recommend reading this series in order.

Cannot wait to hear what you have to say! Have you read this series? Did you enjoy how this book played out?

Anna

Review for Clyndere’s Midight

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Cyndere’s Midnight by Jeffery Overstreet – Part of the Auralia Thread series

Age range – Young adult or adult audience

Rating: PG13 for violence

Summary-

This is the second book in the Auralia Thread series. It picks up close to where the Auralia’s Colors left off maybe a couple months later. We get to hear from characters we know and love like the ale boy and king Cal-raven, but we also are introduced to new characters like Cyndere and Jordam. Jordam’s story takes center stage here.

After Cyndere’s husband is dead, she tries to continue their dream by befriending a Beastman. This Beastman had seen Auralia’s colors and is now conflicted.

My Thoughts –

First off I have to say that I have really enjoyed how the author weaves his story together. It almost seems lyrical and poetic. The characters were realistic and each have their own personal battles they went through. One of the main themes throughout this book was grief and how to continue on after the world came crashing down. All the characters are affected by House Abascar’s downfall.

I cruised through it quicker then the first book . For some books the author will switch between character’s perspectives and it makes the book divided. The way the author switched between the characters worked well and I did not mind it at all. I grew to like these characters as well if not better then Auralia and her story. I cannot wait to see how it will continue.

Violence –

There is a little more violence compared to Auralia’s Colors. The author introduces us to the fallen House of Cent Regus which are called Beastman. They kill all they come in contact with, expect for one named Jordam. Within the first couple of chapter one of the characters die. We find out later that Mordafey severed his hand. Jordam kills a wild animal and it mentions blood.

Mordafey performs various evil deeds throughout the book. He does team up with a Seer, more on that later. He orders his brothers to attack a wagon and kill the three people in it. Jordam does kill one of the men, but he questions what he is doing. He gathers an army to go fight the House Abascar.

Also, the Beastman required Essence. There are scenes where the brothers went down to the pit where it is located. One of the brothers injured several people while he was down in the pit. It is a little disturbing, but not too gratuitous. It helps show how much Jordam changes compared to his brothers.

Lastly, there is a scuffle between Abascar and the Beastman. None of the humans die, but several Beastman are injured/killed.

Language- None

Innuendo – One of the minor character flirted with a married woman, but she did not appreciate it. It was only mentioned a handful of times, used to show how flawed and evil a character was. The author depicted it as something that was wrong.

Other –

The House of Bel Amica followed Seers. Throughout the book we saw how they influenced people. One in particular is quite nefarious, but it is clearly shown that they are corrupt and not to be trusted. The Seers try to get the people to follow moon spirits, but the main character realizes that this is a false belief system.

Conclusion –

I really have enjoyed the first two books in this series. The characters felt alive. Although this book was a little darker then the first, I loved how we get to see redemption and forgiveness. Jordam was my favorite character and I loved how we get to see how his character developed. I would say this was probably more of an adult fantasy. The author was not overly descriptive with the violence, but it is there.